I did something fantastic today!

It required the training of all the time spent at Landmark Education, Art of Living, with my uncle – Ravi Chhabra – who is a Management Consultant in USA, and trains be very lovingly whenever he is in India, in “communication”, the several books, and ofcourse Sen Gupta, who talks and negotiates in this manner on a day-to-day basis in face of extreme crisis situations as well.

I live in an apartment, and as in all apartments, there are always issues that neighbours have among each other, communication breakdown, because of very small and insignificant issues. I’ve been maintaining the nearby strip of land, which was formerly a dumyard of ‘malba’ (construciton waste), for a lot of houses in our block of apartments. I spent a lot of money and transformed the same into a beautiful green strip which now has nearly 20-25 small fruit and flower trees.

The people opposite our flat had some work done in their house, and some misunderstanding due to another neighbour led to some issues between us, on the malba. Later, I noticed that there is some malba lying next to the greep strip. This was quite frustrating for me, as I’ve been already frustrated by pleas to the association to remove their ‘iron barrier’ and get the drainage cleaned, but to no effect.

Under normal circumstances one blames one-another and takes the attitude that people are like that only, or “if they do not come forward, why should we bother”. In my case, because my my persistent, and mostly, aggressive attitudes, I have the reputation of being a ‘ladaka’ (one who keeps fighting with people). One neighbour also told me, ‘…when you live in apartments, there are problems, who should not complain – if you have a problem go live in a bungalow’ (this is a very common stance taken by people in Vasant Kunj).

Last time I spoke to the neighbours in front of me, the gentleman also told me that I should stop complaining and that malba was not theirs. I invited him to come and see the same, to which he refused for that day, and proposed Saturday…I alternately said we could meet on Sunday.

Obviously I have been nervous. I do not wish to be branded a complainer or a ladaka. It is really saddenning and frustrating for me. So, when I tried to talk to my wife, she also came up with the same negative stance “..keep fighting with neighbours…and no one will come forward in time of need”. While she is right, I do believe that I have toned down, from what I used to be 2-3 years back, and normally take a very “persuasive” stance rather than an aggressive one these days, in face of negativity.

I know I have changed, the world needs to start seeing it. :-) (may I need to start showing to more to the world).

Anyway, among all this negativity, I still called the uncle (in India, all elders are uncles and auntys respectively) on phone, and he obliged to come out in 15 minutes. I spent the next 10 minutes practicing what I had to say and thought of some nice points, such as:

  1. it was very difficult me for break this communication barrier and persist to speak to him, instead of becoming negative and get into a blame-game like most neighbours do
  2. the malba was the not the issue, but the more important point was that how could we all come forward and ensure that we live in a community harmoniously

During this brief conversation, in which he mentioned that he accepted to get the malba cleared, although he did not believe it could have been theirs (but he agreed since no one else in the block had got the work done; it could have been just one more house, but he was not coming forward)

I guess I struck a chord in his heart as well, with my “loving and understanding” tone (thanks to all the seminars and the books, and most recently “Who Will Cry When You Die” by Robin Sharma, which has a chapter on understanding the human being behind those eyeballs.

Ofcourse, I must acknowledge that uncle has a sense of calm about him, and is much easier to communicate with. It was his acceptance, and probably his large-heartedness, which actually, inspite of the situation which could be a bit belittling for him, agreed to come out and see the malba, and give me a patient ear.

Anyway, I have persuaded him to join hands in taking care of the block ourselves, instead of waiting for the Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) – elected neighbourhood society (which I believe suffers from the same issues that the Govt of India does – its like fractal geometry – patterns repeating at the micro and macro levels).

Now its upto me to go to all the 14-15 occupied houses in our block, and persuade each one to come forward, have a meeting in my house, coming Sunday, to create a ‘block fund’, and get the ‘communication going’ between all of us, and sort-out things on in our block on our own.

I already can imagine people gunning for each other’s throats, including for my throat, and me for others’ throats – :-) – but I guess we will all have to keep aside the ‘extremely touchy‘ issues
and take up a more common agenda; and very importantly, get the communication going between all of us, and make each other aware of issues they face.

God, give me the Grace to be able to organise this meeting, and then manage it well – to create a ‘positive change‘.